News / Africa

Nigeria's Former Military Ruler Running for President

Former Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida (file photo)
Former Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida (file photo)

A former military ruler in Nigeria is running for president in elections scheduled for next year.  The candidacy has revived allegations of corruption during his time in power.

Retired general Ibrahim Babangida says he is running for president because he left so many things behind when he left Abuja, including the value of Nigeria's currency, stable fuel prices, and government reform.

He told reporters this week that he wants to return to the capital to pick up those things for the benefit of ordinary Nigerians.

Babangida is among half a dozen candidates vying for the ruling-party's nomination, but no one has a resume quite like his.  A veteran of three successful military coups, Babangida ran Nigeria for eight years, dragging-out a transition to civilian rule by banning all political parties and forcing candidates to run in one of two parties he created.

Political analyst Ignatius Onwuemele recalls when a vote was finally held in 1993, Babangida annulled the results.  

"The election that was the freest and the fairest so far in Nigerian history was annulled without offering any reason," he said.  "And of course such a man who spearheaded such an annulment is not a democratic individual, as far as I am concerned."

Onwuemele wonders how a man who ruled by decree can work with a multi-party legislature. "As a military ruler, I know that it is not like democracy where issues are tested and tried.  He can wake up and take decisions and all that," he said.

Babangida says he takes full responsibility for annulling the June 12, 1993 vote and admits it was a mistake.

Former ruling-party member Edward Oforomeh says Babangida is not the only one to blame. "That June 12th issue is not a personal issue.  Although he was the leader of that regime, he could not have done it alone.  Babangida could not have done the annulment alone," he said.

As a Nigerian citizen, he says Babangida has every right to run for president. "He did the best he could when he was [in power] and now that he says he is coming back it is left for the populace to decide on whether to vote for him or not," he said.

During his time in power, Babangida created many new local government areas and several new states as part of what he said was a plan to decentralize power.

"Everybody sees today development there as a result of those local governments and states," he said.

Nigeria made huge oil profits with the spike in world prices during the first Gulf War and much of that money collected by the Babangida administration remains unaccounted for.  Babangida says he knows that will be an issue in this election, and he is assuring voters that all those funds were properly used to meet government demands at the time.

Warri-based attorney James Jakpor says corruption is a problem for all Nigerians. "The blame of the corruption, the blame of the Naira can not be placed only on Babangida.  He contributed his quota, no doubt.  But the problem is for the whole of Nigeria," he said.

Political analysts say the former general no longer enjoys such a huge financial advantage over potential rivals.  An officer class once dominated by his Middle Belt region is now more geographically and ethnically diverse.  

There is also the question of age. Babangida is 68.  In a vote to choose a successor to a president who could not complete his term because of a heart condition, many Nigerian voters are looking for a younger, more dynamic candidate.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs